This year, 2014, with it’s big anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, I have thought a lot about my own ancestors and their own involvement in the war. Research into the available records have revealed that a number of my ancestors fought. For instance I found service papers that revealed that Albert John Terry, my great grandfather didn’t enlist until 1917, and unfortunately he forfeited 7 days pay for leaving his kit hanging up in the kitchen!
It would appear that most of my ancestors who were involved returned from the war except for two great great uncles:
Henry James Baldwin born 30 September 1885 in Hoxton, Middlesex. He was my great grandfather, Reuben Baldwin’s eldest brother. From service records found so far it would appear that Henry and his brothers were sent from London at an early age to train at the naval base of Portsmouth. Henry became a regular soldier and he appeared on the 1911 census in Hong Kong as a Gunner with the 87th Company Royal Garrison Artillery. From the little I have managed to learn so far they were called back to Europe at the beginning of WW1 and he died at the 4th siege battery at Ypres on 16 June 1915. His informal will leaves all his personal belongings to his mother.
Percy Harmer on the other hand was born on 28 January 1899 in Dallington, Sussex and he was only 15 years of age at the outbreak of war. The 1911 census had him living at home with his family and he was still attending school, no doubt at Dallington village school. It is likely that by 1914 he had followed his brother’s example and was working as a farm labourer on one of the many local farms nearby. I haven’t managed to find his service record but from information found on the web it appeared he was probably one of ‘Lowther’s lambs’ and enlisted early 1916 at the age of 17. He was in the 11th batallion of the Royal Sussex Regiment, one of the Southdown Batallion. More information can be found at http://royalsussex-southdowns.co.uk/history
Unfortunately he died on 3 March 1918 in the Somme during the last great push by the Germans. He was 19 years of age and his name appears on the memorial in the Town Hall in Eastbourne.
With both these young men dying, any potential family lines ended and when their close family died they became forgotten. Through my family history research I have resurrected their existence and through telling their stories once again they can be honoured for fighting for their country.
For more information about the war dead from Dallington check out the Dallington village website. Roy Iremonger has researched the names of the young men from Dallington who fought and his book can be found here: